How to write a critical comparative book review

Bibliography Definition A multiple book review essay involves assessing the quality of two or more books that cover the same overall subject area [e. The review is written in the form of a short scholarly paper [essay] rather than as a descriptive book review. The purpose is to compare and contrast the works under review, to identify key themes and critical issues, and to evaluate each writer's contributions to understanding the overarching topics common to each book. Professors assign reviews of multiple books to help students gain experience critically evaluating the ways in which different researchers examine and interpret issues related to a specific research problem.

How to write a critical comparative book review

You may choose any book or article on the course Bibliography that has not already been assigned as a required class reading. All optional books and articles are fair game.

how to write a critical comparative book review

You may select any book or article the notes of most articles and books we read as a class. You may also select from bibliographies of other assigned books. For the purposes of this assignment, a book will be defined as several chapters in a book usually the introduction, conclusion, and one or two from the middle or a long min 30 pp.

Popular magazines, newspapers, and industry journals do not count. If you want to use a book that does not appear in any of the above places, or if you are not sure about the suitability of a book for this assignment, please ask me in advance.

You can save yourself a lot of trouble by picking an appropriate book. If you are writing a research paper for the class, feel free to use a book from your research bibliography for this assignment.

Please do not "double dip" write the same assignment for more than one course without asking both professors what their policies are.

Structuring the book review

I will only allow it under exceptional circumstances, by prior permission. A Model Book Review: If you do not know how to do this, please ask at the reference desk or come see me during my office hours in the library and I will show you.

Browse around until you find the book reviews section, which usually follows the articles. Even easier, go the the journal section of the library and flip to the book reviews of a journal like Environmental History.

Some tips adapted from: This section discusses major types of assignments that you might encounter -- ranging from summaries, book reviews, annotated bibliographies, and short essays to the meatier and more complicated research paper--and suggests some general ways of approaching these assignments.

When writing a book review, you not only report on the content of the book but also assess its strengths and weaknesses. Students sometimes feel unqualified to write a book review; after all, the author of the book is a professional historian. However, even if you cannot write from the same level of experience and knowledge as the author, you can write an effective review if you understand what the assignment requires.

In writing a review you do not just relate whether or not you liked the book; you also tell your readers why you liked or disliked it. It is not enough to say, "This book is interesting"; you need to explain why it is interesting. Similarly, it is not enough to report that you disliked a book; you must explain your reaction.

Did you find the book unconvincing because the author did not supply enough evidence to support his or her assertions? Or did you disagree with the book's underlying assumptions?

To understand your own reaction to the book, you need to read it carefully and critically. As a critical reader, you are not passive; you should ask questions of the book and note reactions as you read.

Your book review then discusses those questions and reactions. Though there is no "correct" way to structure a review, the following is one possible approach. Summarize the book and relate the author's main point, or thesis. Somewhere early in the paper, identify the author briefly. If so why, if not, why not.

Cite examples from the text. You might discuss who would find this book useful and why. If a book is well written and presents an original thesis supported by convincing evidence, say so.

A good book review does not have to be negative; it does have to be fair and analytical. Graff, The Modern Researcher, 4th ed. San Diego, As a sample of what such guidelines may be for writers in any of the shorter forms, here is a set of suggestions about the form of the book review.

We will assume that it is written for a learned or literary periodical, where the space allotted will usually not exceed 1, words--say the American Historical Review or The New Criterion--or for an upper division course at UW Tacoma, say History of Technology. The beginning, we know, is important.The critical book review in history is unique to the discipline and a skill that is expected to be mastered by history students after their first year.

how to write a critical comparative book review

Understanding what a critical book review in history is supposed to consist of is the first step in writing one. How To Write A Comparative Review. Comparative reviews are typically more difficult to write than regular reviews.

Instead of sizing the merits of one item, you’re evaluating the details of two, pitting their qualities both with industry expectations and against one another. How To Write A Comparative Review Comparative reviews are typically more difficult to write than regular reviews.

Instead of sizing the merits of one item, you’re evaluating the details of two, pitting their qualities both with industry expectations and against one another.

What this handout is about. This handout will help you write a book review, a report or essay that offers a critical perspective on a text. It offers a process and suggests some strategies for writing book reviews. Writing a book review may seem very difficult, but in fact there are some simple rules you can follow to make the process much easier.

Before you read, find out about the author’s prior work What academic discipline was the author trained in? An important first step in approaching how to write a review of two or more books is to identify and think critically about the research problem that ties each of the books together.

B. Relation of point to second book V. Second comparative point A. Relation of point to first book Typically, multiple book review essays do not compare.

How to Write a Critical Book Review | History | Carleton College